Your Battery is on Fire – and That’s a Good Thing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Mary Grady’s report at AvWeb alerted your editor to this exciting development. Imagine a battery capable of seven times the energy output of any lithium battery now in existence, made of non-toxic, easily recycled materials.  One aspect of this new energy source might give you pause, however.  You have to set fire to the battery to extract all that energy. With recalls of so-called “hoverboards” and still warm memories of Tesla and 787 Dreamliner battery fires, folks might be excused for wanting to avoid anything that combines fires with batteries.  The new approach, from MIT researchers, uses carbon nanotubes as its base, and these don’t self-ignite like their lithium cousins. Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs* Professor in Chemical Engineering …

The Light at the End of the Funnel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

In some exciting news that could make several quantum leaps in solar cell performance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have announced a hundred-fold increase in light gathering capabilities for solar cells. If a cell were able to exploit this increase, an aircraft such as the Solar Impulse could fly on 120 solar cells instead of the 12,000 now spread across its over 200-foot wingspan. We’ve reported on carpet-like light-capturing formats for increasing solar cell output, but the MIT approach funnels light down a multi-carbon nanotube filament, boosting the output of the “tiny” solar cell at the bottom. MIT’s press release explains the outcome. “’Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were …